Any serious follower of motorsport will have to admit that there’s a secret racing driver within them, just waiting to get out.
For the most part, however, and ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, such pursuits have remained in the domain of the wealthy, the track-day enthusiast or the racing driver himself.
The BAC Mono, however, has changed all of that in a way that very few cars in the world can match, in that it is a fully road legal, high-performance single-seater supercar that gives the driver the ultimate thrill of bringing the track to the road, and vice-versa.
Founded in 2009 and producing cars since 2011, Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) has always carried the ethos of delivering the experience of driving as a sport in its purest form. The first-generation BAC Mono was the world’s first single-seater road-legal supercar with dry weight of 580kg, built to be the ultimate performer on both the road and track.
It featured a a 2.5L naturally aspirated Mountune engine, delivering 305bhp and top speed of 170mph, and became a global phenomenon before too long – it’s clear there are precious few road-legal cars that give the everyday driver the thrill of a formula vehicle.
Director of Design for BAC, Ian Briggs, told new technical partner Acronis that the whole design philosophy for the Mono is to do just that.
“We offer something that is totally performance-focused,” explains Briggs. “If you imagine F3 cars are doing about the same kind of lap time as a DTM car, which are extremely fast cars, they’re not far off the kind of times we’re doing with a car on road tyres. So it’s a really extreme performance vehicle. Our competition really isn’t other cars. Our customers have got Lamborghinis and Ferraris and Porches already, they have a Range Rover to go away on weekends, the wife may have a convertible Portofino. It may not be a second or third car, but rather a 15th car!
“If you want to get up on a Sunday morning with the family and go up into the hills and put bikes on the back, then take the Range Rover. If you want to go with your mates to Brands Hatch and watch the racing and have a chat on the way there, then jump in your McLaren or Ferrari. But if you want to get up and go and meet some other enthusiasts in a café on top of the Moors and get the thrill of performance driving out of your system, then Mono is the only car that can offer you that, in its purest form, as far as we’re concerned.
“There are guys who take their track days quite seriously, they’ll buy the slicks and the race wets, and a trailer and they’ll be the quickest thing around there. But we’ve got just as many customers who never take Mono on track and they’re going to the Alps for the weekend with a load of mates with their Porsches and Ferraris and say five or six of them will find nice twisty roads and just enjoy driving. We’re trying to get away from this idea that it’s just a track car. Mono is just a focused piece of equipment which is totally focused on the sport of driving.”
With every successful manufacturer of high-performance supercars, there are a range of options, add-ons and limited-edition models. New to the range is the BAC Mono R, the first production car to incorporate graphene in its body panels contributing to a remarkable weight of just 555kg. Coupled with the new 343bhp engine, that creates a power-to-weight ratio of 618bhp-per-tonne.
“For us, it’s all about reducing weight and any weight you’ve got get it lower in the car to increase balance and performance,” adds Briggs. “It’s a really, really simple thing to do and the only decisions you have to make are with the amount of resource, time and money that we’ve got and the effect on the price of the car – what gives the best bang for the buck?
“Graphene is a great way to save weight and it’s already state-of-the-art – Formula One cars, Space Ex and the rest of it. If you want to go to the Nth degree, you put the highest-quality carbon, highest-quality resin to minimise any excess resin in the structure. It’s the most expensive and the best way of producing the lightest possible panel. It’s very hard to do an apples to apples comparison, but it’s about 9kgs we’ve saved, which is about a 20% weight save on the body structure. That’s huge when you think five years earlier we were doing everything possible to save weight on the body.
“It is a very high-spec engine, revving to 9000rpm, normally aspirated 2.5L, 343bhp, which is a hell of an achievement. We had to pick a number we were confident we could sell, and we knew we had 120 customers of which one in four would jump for a Mono R. So we offered it first to our existing customers and that’s exactly what happened. So when we launched the run of 30 cars, it was already sold out.”
With every revolutionary supercar comes its own set of fans and devotees to the cause. There are many return customers, some of whom have very specific requests. One such customer ordered a spectacular colour scheme for his Mono R, inspired by world-famous PlayStation anti-gravity racing game WipEout, paying homage to the iconic FEISAR team.
“That came about because he’s a gamer and he loved the game WipEout, which was one of the original PlayStation 1 launch games,” smiles Ian. “A long story short, it was developed by some guys in Liverpool and Sony bought the studio because it was so successful and Sony Music connected into the artist and were able to get a proper sound track on it for the first time, instead of having Super Mario or Space Invader beeps and 80s/90s computer sounds, it had Leftfield, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, so it became cult.
“This is his second car from BAC, actually. He already had an original Mono and when he ordered this, and said he’d like to work with the original creators of the game. So he contacted Sony, found the designers from Liverpool – Ed and Nick – and created this WipEout car, which is great because it’s so striking and everyone is making such a fuss of it. Anyone can have whatever colour scheme they like! Owners work closely with our design team and we make it happen, not matter the complexity.”
Naturally, the uniqueness of the Mono has led to many awards and it has featured prominently in car magazines and popular television shows, including world renowned Top Gear.
“Top Gear recognised just how focused a product it was when they tested it in 2012. So if ever there was going to be a ‘Stig car of the year’ for a character who is essentially a driving robot who doesn’t even speak… if ever he would pick a dream car, he would pick a car that’s only about driving and about nothing else. So we are the only car that has ever won the Stig Car of the Year Award, back in 2012 I think it was.
“We featured on Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson and actually set the second-quickest time on their leaderboard. However, there was a big scandal because it turned out the Pagani had actually used racing tyres to set the lap and one of the criteria is that you have to use road tyres.
“Jeremy Clarkson loved it and in fact picked it to feature in a few of his Christmas videos and in one of them he picked it as his favourite car to finish the tour that the three of them were doing, so we’ve been very well treated by Top Gear over the years by both the magazine and the television show. The magazine had us as one of the top 10 cars in the world and we were on the cover with a Rolls Royce, Porsche 911, Mercedes AMG, the cream of the crop.”
With the next generation of the BAC Mono launched this year and due for delivery in 2022, the company continues to go from strength to strength despite the effect of COVID-19 hitting the automotive industry.
For more information on BAC Mono, click here. https://www.bac-mono.com/